KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
The opulent park of the Summer Palace is one of the most popular sights in Beijing. The royal families relaxed here during the stifling summer heat that baked the Forbidden City. Gardens, pavilions, lakes and long covered corridors offered respite and relaxation. The site had been a garden for centuries but was enlarged and embellished by Emperor Qianlong during the 18th century. He directed 100,000 labourers to expand Kunming Lake and then Empress CiXi restored the buildings in 1888 after Anglo-French troops damaged the site during the Second Opium War (1856-60).
Once again, we were faced with many steep steps to climb but the views from the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity made it all worthwhile. We were tired from our visit to the Great Wall earlier in the day but the late afternoon light made the encroaching city of Beijing fade in the distance. We could almost imagine the pristine panoramas enjoyed by the Imperial court hundreds of years ago.